In my 30 years, I have spent approximately 23 years in formal education. I have 3 degrees, one in biology, one in psychology and the last in medicine.
I was always a nerdy kid, with books, stationery, and school craft projects galore. I prided myself on my academic achievements, but as I became engrossed in gaining approval for my academic success, I lost my true interest and pursuit of learning for knowledge sake.
Since leaving medicine, a highly specialized field, I have read more, arguably learned more, and my brain has had the time needed to decompress and explore to make new connections—time it desperately needed. Learning new languages, expanding my mind to new careers, different ideas, and ways of living that were previously completely foreign to me is what has truly made me “smarter.” I have degrees to prove my “book smarts” but all that shows is that I can work hard and take tests.
I have met friends who have taught themselves languages, lots of other doctors (with PhDs in advanced fields like math, biology and environmental areas, and so many more from countries where their education is subsidized because their governments see the value in an educated public) I know people without degrees who have become masters in their fields by learning marketing, or other skills online. Learning and school is not a one size fits all situation.
After traveling, I truly now believe we are doing the whole “structured school thing” wrong. Humans are naturally curious, naturally intelligent, and are natural problem solvers. Why don’t we tap into this instead of stifling it with rote memorization and testing?
(For those who don’t know… I am doing “30 days to 30” and sharing life lessons and stories in order to celebrate my birthday—hoping to break stigmas and stereotypes about what 30 means and looks like)